Chicago marathon: Week 14

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This week had a slow start- coming back from the Alaskan cruise, Monday was an all day travel day for Den and I, and it felt like we were taking every mode of transportation to get home. The boat made it into the dock at Vancouver before we woke up, so we grabbed breakfast on the ship while we waited for our bags to clear customs. 

It was bittersweet having our last meal on the cruise, but it had been such a great trip. Once our bags cleared customs we disembarked the ship for the last time, and headed to the terminal to collect our stuff. From there we headed to the buses, as we had pre-booked airport transportation through the cruise line. It was about a 40 minute ride to the airport, and we had a bus driver who gave us color commentary throughout the drive. 

When we got to the airport we had to sit in a holding lot until the bus was cleared to drive in, and then it was the slow walk through customs. By the time our bags were checked and we were through security, we had about 45 minutes before our flight would start boarding. Since we would be landing at 9 pm NY time, I wanted to find food so I wouldn’t be starving. Once we boarded the flight it was smooth sailing for the most part, the biggest battle being trying to stay awake for the whole flight, so I could easily sleep when we got home.

My brother Kevin was nice enough to collect us from Newark, which is a hike from Long Island, and I was really happy we didn’t have to deal with the air train. When we finally got home it took me a while to settle in before heading to bed, and I knew the morning wake up was going to be harder than usual, with my body still functioning on west coast time. 

My fist run of the week didn’t happen until Wednesday night, since I took it easy on Tuesday to recover from the traveling, and to try to get my body to adjust back to my normal schedule. Plus, my knee was still bothering me, and I wanted to give it another day to see if there was any improvement. 

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That night I headed out solo after work, even though I did a bit of procrastinating before I got moving. But when I did get out, I felt okay at first. The miles felt really slow, and were more effort than usual, but I kept slogging forward. Eventually my knee hurt enough that I decided to stop for my knee brace, right around mile four. Immediately I was more comfortable, but the run was still far from easy. I had come that far though, and wanted to get in the seven miles that my schedule called for- I’m stubborn and I know it. I felt fine once the run was over. Tired, but fine. 

Well, remember when I said last week would have the least amount of running content? It turns out that was a lie. Because those seven miles were all I managed to run this week. I was so excited to get back into training and continue to build for Chicago, so this was a disappointing turn, to say the least.

When I got up Thursday morning I planned to run with Kasey. I got dressed, pulled on my shoes, and headed out the door. But it quickly became clear, based off of the pain level in my leg, that running was not an option. Since I knew Kasey was already headed my way, I hopped on my bike and biked with Dad while Kasey ran. I like my bike and all, but this was not what I wanted to be doing. My brain was quickly spiraling, as it tried to figure out what had happened with my knee.

The level of pain in my knee was severe enough that morning that I called my doctor that day and made an appointment for Friday. Race anxiety quickly settled in - what would happen to my marathon? Was I going to be able to run it still? 

My doctor sent me for an x-ray, and after looking at my knee was worried that I had a “lateral knee injury.” Great. It was a less than reassuring appointment, as I was hoping it was just tendinitis or something like that, which could be healed with rest. She banned me not only from running, but from biking as well. So, swim was all I had left. 

So on Saturday and Sunday that was what I did: I swam. Lucky for me, it was the last weekend that our public pools were open for the season, so I got in the water on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I took it easy, and swam at a low effort level for about 50 minutes- 2,000 yards. Dennis came along to the pool with me, and honestly the company was the push that I needed to get my butt in the water.

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Since my knee didn’t hurt any more after swimming, I challenged myself on Sunday. Instead of just churning out laps, I alternated sets of “hard” pace laps and recovery laps, to get my heart rate up in hopes of not loosing too much cardio. I wanted to get in 2,000 laps again, but the lifeguards started blowing the whistle to indicate the pool was closing just before I hit my goal.

At this point, my marathon is still in limbo. When I got the x-ray done it was the Friday of Labor Day weekend, so I wasn’t anticipating getting results any sooner than Tuesday. I tried to keep myself busy, rearranging the apartment (with Dennis doing the bulk of actually moving stuff, and me more so pointing), and spending time with family and friends to distract from my worries.

So, here’s hoping that all my training doesn’t add up to nothing. 

Chicago marathon: week 13

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Ok guys, ready for the blog post with the least amount of running content of this training cycle? Well, welcome to the training recap for week 13, where I spent the week on vacation, cruising to Alaska from Vancouver with my husband Dennis. 

We had left New York on Friday, and spent the weekend in Vancouver. While we were there I got to run the Seawheeze half marathon, we went to the Vancouver aquarium, ate lots of yummy food, explored Stanley park, and checked out the Capilano suspension bridge, which was amazing. Come Monday, we checked out of our hotel and headed towards the cruise terminal, where we would set sail from.

It was my 5th Disney Cruise, but my first time aboard the Wonder, which is one of the fleets original ships. It is significantly smaller than the ships I had been on previously, the Fantasy and the Dream, and throughout the week I found myself comparing the experiences. Even though it here were less passengers on this ship, it felt much more crowded. 

We boarded the ship on Monday, after a fun weekend in Vancouver that included the Seawheeze half marathon, the capilano suspension bridge, and exploring Stanley Park. We were both so excited to get on the ship, and headed for the terminal around the 10:30 am. We had the hotel we were staying at, the Ramada by Wyndham in downtown Vancouver call us a taxi, since there is no Uber or lyft in Vancouver, and we had a ton of luggage. This may have been the best choice I made all week, as it only cost us $8, and was so much easier than taking the train with all our stuff, as we had done when we first got to Vancouver. The train system was simple, but it was hard to not be in the way of other passengers with all of our luggage. When the taxi dropped us off at the cruise terminal, Disney had people collecting our bags, so we handed the bulk of our luggage over at this point. 

The port officially started accepting passengers at 11 am that morning, so we were pleased when we got there at 10:50 and they were already allowing people to start the check in process. 

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Disney has a loyalty program called the “castaway club” on their cruise ships, and the more cruises you have been on the higher your level. My 5 cruises puts me in the “Gold” category, but my husbands 12 or so cruises lands him in “Platinum,” the highest section at present. The big perk of this? We get a free meal at palos, the premium dining on the ship, and dedicated lines at check in - which meant no line at all on this particular morning. The cruise staff were all so welcoming, and quickly got us through the terminal. We had to bring our carry on bags through security, and clear customs since we were heading from Canada back into America, on our journey to Alaska. 

Once we had our “key to the world” cards, the cards that you use for rooms and any purchases that you make on the ship, we waited in the terminal for the ship to be ready for passengers. The schedule told us that the ship would start boarding at 1:30 pm, so we hopped on line to snag a photo with Minnie Mouse while we waited. We settled into the lobby after, trying to catch a glimpse of the boat as we waited. 

Lucky for us, they were ready for passengers a little earlier than planned, and started letting us on board around noon. We were in boarding group one, so we were among the first group of passengers to load onto the ship. We spent some time wandering around the decks while they were still empty, and checking out the kids club and teen areas, which are open to the public on the first day, so that we could see what they looked like while we had the chance - they always have fun Disney touches, and they vary from ship to ship, so I was excited to get a look at them. 

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After we had toured around the ship for a while, we headed to Cabanas, the buffet, for lunch. We relaxed in there until our room was ready, and then headed down to deck two to drop off the bags that we had opted to carry on to the ship, which we had been lugging around since boarding. 

The ship was slated to leave at 4 pm, so around then we headed to a top deck, to get a view of Vancouver as we left. As we explored Vancouver we noticed a big pile of sulfur that was visible at an industrial park across from the port, and Dennis kept joking that he was super excited to see the pile of sulfur up close at last as we sailed away. 

Through the course of our weeklong cruise we headed to Dawes Glacier, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagaway. 

Since we were spending the first day of our cruise at sea, and my body was still running on NY time (three hours ahead of our actual time zone at that point), I headed to the gym for a yoga class they were offering, and to get in some treadmill miles while I had the time. 

The yoga class was more guided stretching, but it was nice to get moving. The views were pretty from the top deck of the ship, where we could spot some islands to both sides of the boat as we sailed along. Having previously only done tropical cruises, it was strange to be able to see land throughout most of the cruise. When the yoga class ended I spent another 15 minutes stretching out my hamstrings and hips before heading inside to hop on the treadmill. 

The treadmill had a TV attached to it, and a handful of channels that played various Disney movies. I settled on the end of Big Hero 6, and eventually swapped over to Tarzan when it ended. I got in 6 miles before my stomach was really shouting for breakfast, and I headed back down to the room to see if Den was awake, and ready for food - my breakfast of choice for day one? Mickey waffles, of course.

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The second day of our trip was largely spent sightseeing, as we sailed down the Tracy arm passage towards the Dawes glacier. Den and I attended a talk given by a former park ranger about the nature and history of Alaska, and then bundled up to head our for our first excursion - we were boarding a smaller boat, which would be able to sail up to the glacier, while the Disney wonder had to keep its distance, as it was too large to make a close approach. 

Leading up to the cruise Den and I went back and fourth a lot, trying to decide if this excursion was worth the cost, but ultimately felt like we didn’t know how long glaciers would be around, and I wanted to see one up close while I had the chance. I have to say- if you ever get this opportunity, take it. This was by far my favorite experience of the cruise, from sailing along outside in the crisp Alaskan air, taking in waterfalls and mountains as we got closer to the glacier. When we finally approached the glacier, the boat spent about an hour going in circles, and Dennis and I stayed on deck the whole time. I wanted to take in the sights as much as possible, regardless of the temperature. 

Eventually our time at the glacier came to a close, and I was happy to get back into the heated ship, and to find some hot chocolate. 

We were supposed to go on a bike tour when we stopped in Ketchikan the next day, but it was unfortunately cancelled, as not enough people had signed up for it. We considered trying to hike on out own, but were warned of bears, and didn’t have access to bear spray. The other option was a bus tour or the white pass rail road, which looked beautiful, but I was concerned about sitting for such a long period of time, as my hip flexor has been causing issues for me any time I sit for more than an hour or two. Ultimately we decided to just explore the port area at Ketchikan, which was tiny and unlike any other port I have been to before. 

The town was tiny, and had multiple national park sites scattered through it. We could see mountains in every direction  as we wandered through town. We went into little shops, and even found a yarn store with Alaskan yarn. I was excited to pick out some vacation yarn that was hand dyed in the state, and am planning to knit up some socks with it. We went to each of the national park sites, and found two museums in town that we enjoyed checking out. Eventually we headed into a brewery, where Dennis tried some local beer and I wrote out postcards to mail home. 

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As people finished their excursions the town got more crowded, but by that time Dennis and I had wandered through most of the shops. So, we decided to get back on the ship and grab a bite to eat. We sat so that we had a view of the town from above as we ate lunch. 

Once we were finished eating, we went back to the room to relax for a bit. Once I was digested I decided to head to the gym to get a few miles in before dinner. Since we had excursions planned for the next two days, I wasn’t sure I would have the time or energy to get out after either, so I wanted to get in a few miles while I could. 

So, I headed to the gym and hopped on a treadmill again, which gave me a view of the town. This time I watched ratatouille as I ran. I wanted to get in at least 6 miles again, but my knee started to feel off around two miles into the run. I had to stop and stretch it a few times, and after each stretch it would feel ok for a few minutes, and then start hurting again. It was unusual, but I figured I had just overdone it at seawheeze or my shoes needed to be replaced. So I called the run after 5 miles, knowing that I had a hike planned for the next day. 

When the ship docked in Juneau the next day, we were lead off of the boat and to a an that was waiting for us in the port. It was rainy that day, but I was prepared with a baseball cap and my hydrophobic running jacket. There were two other families on the excursion with us, during which a tour guide would lead us through a 4 mile hike through the rainforest that surrounds the mendenhall glacier. We drove up “the road” as our tour guide called it, as it is the only highway in Juneau. He told us about the town as we headed towards the glacier, and handed out snacks to bring along when we got to the parking area. He offered hiking sticks as well, but I wanted to be able to have my  hands free for photos, so I passed. Dennis grabbed one though, and was happy to have it during the hike. 

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We headed into the forest, and the tour guide, Matt, told us facts and pointed out sights as we made our way through the forest. We chatted with him and the other families as we followed the path, getting higher up the mountain as we got deeper into the woods. 

 It was overcast, but the rain let up a bit as we kept hiking. The final uphill bit of the trek was up about 100 stairs that had been built in the woods, and we all stopped at the top to catch our breath and remove some layers when we got there. At the peak of the hike we noticed that there was some abandoned industrial equiptment, and our guide told us it was from when there was mining happening on the mountain.

On the way down we had a few scenic stops, one for a water fall and two that gave us peaks at the glacier. My knee was bothering me by the end of the hike, so I was happy when we were finished with the four miles. It had been a nice journey through nature, and I was ready for lunch as we headed back to the ship. That day we opted to not head back into the town to explore, since my knee was sore and it was still raining on and off. Instead we took it easy on the boat until dinner time, and then headed to a pin trading event before going to the show of the night - the Frozen musical. The theater was totally full by the time the show started, so I was glad we got there early to make sure we had seats. The show was great, with some amazing puppetry, costumes, and sets.

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The next day was our final port of the trip - Skagway. We had another excursion, this time kayaking. Luckily, it seemed like the weather was going to be nicer, and when we got off of the ship things were looking good. We had about a half hour ride to get to the boat that would take us to the Tatooish islands, where we would board Kayaks and go on a guided tour. The dock that we left from was a part of a tour company, and there was a friendly dog running around, who I was very excited to say hello to - after a week on a boat I was so happy to see an animal.

To get to the area we would be kayaking in we boarded zodiak boat a with the tour guides and other people who were participating in the excursion. After a quick safety briefing we were allowed to climb into kayaks, and the guides pushed us into the water. About 60 seconds into the tour someone managed to flip their Kayak, something I would not call an easy thing to do, and I spent the rest of the time slightly paranoid that I was going to wind up in some very cold water. We paddled around the island formation, as the guides told us about the area. We even spotted some bald eagles, seals, and deers. It was a really nice ride, and a beautiful day out. When our time was up, we got to have cookies on the beach as we waited for the Zodiak to pick us up.

When we got back to the port we walked around the town, exploring and picking out a few souvenirs. It was a good last port visit, before we boarded the boat. out next stop would be Vancouver, but we would have one more day at sea before our vacation came to a close. Since we knew we could sleep in on our last day at sea, we hung out at one of the bars on the ship on our last night, and even played the Disney version of the newly wed game - match your mate. We didn’t win, but they did give us a free drink and a voucher for a free photo print from the shop on the ship.

On our final day of vacation we mostly relaxed, watching movies and eating lots of food. I tried to go for a run, but was forced to stop after about a mile and a half, as my knee gave out on me, and it made me feel like it wasn’t a safe running conditions for me. I was bummed, but hopeful that I just needed new shoes or a break from the treadmill. We packed our bags so they could be picked up that night, and then would be waiting for us on the other side of customs.

On Monday morning we disembarked the ship, and headed right to the airport via a Disney bus. It was bittersweet that a vacation that we had looked forward to for so long was over, but we had such an amazing time, and made so many memories.

If you are ever on the fence about a Disney cruise, this is me telling you to go for it - you won’t regret it. Even though it was an amazing trip, I was looking forward to getting home to our cats, and back into my regular routine.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 12

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Going into this week I knew I would have a lot on my plate- Dennis and I would be leaving for vacation on Friday, and I still needed to get everything in order to go out of town, on top of getting in some miles and all of my usual life responsibilities. 

After a lot of mileage for the last two weeks, I was planning on cutting back a little bit during week 12. I was going to be running the SeaWheeze half marathon at the end of the week, and wanted to be rested enough that I could race, to test where my fitness is at. 

I had totaled 27 miles over the weekend, so a run was not happening Monday morning - instead I was registered to run the Nassau County Police Department Memorial 5k on Monday night. I was planning to run this race with my cousin Ryan, but he wasn’t feeling great. So instead I texted Mike, and got lucky because his plans had fallen through, so he was able to run with me instead!

There was a big crowd at the race, which wasn’t surprising since the weather was good and it was great cause. Mike and I both come from police families, so we were happy to be a part of this race. Initially we planned to just take it easy, but when we found Tara, one of my MBTT teammates, in the starting lineup and she asked if I would help her keep a pace around 8:45, I couldn’t resist. Keep an eye out, as I’ll be posting a race recap soon to talk about this fun night. 

Tuesday I once again had night running plans- I was really happy that I didn’t have to run in the morning, because my legs were SORE when I woke up that morning. I guess all of the miles and a race were catching up to me. 

The plan for Tuesday? My local running store, runners edge, was hosting a meatball run. You may wonder what a meatball run is - there is a restaurant called “the meatball place” right down the block from the running shop, so they occasionally do events with them. In this case, the event was sponsored by onCloud, and if you tried a pair of their shoes during a group run, you got a voucher for a meatball slider and a beer (or in my case, a cider- the voucher lets you get any drink that’s on tap). 

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Mike and I met up at the shop, since we were both coming from work. We were able to get a pair of shoes to sample, and I liked how wide the toe box was on these shoes. The group run would be a total of 4 miles, out and back, with the turn around point being the horse stables that we would eventually reach. The group headed out all together, but thinned out into groups of different paces as the run progressed. Some of the run was over loose gravel which was a little bit of rough footing, and Mike and I complained to each other about our sore legs. We kept trudging forward though, dealing with the humidity as best we could. 

Once we hit the stables we turned around, glad to be away from the smell of horses. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t spot any horses as we ran by though. On the trip back to the shop it started drizzling a little, and we were both relieved when the run was over - why had four miles felt so hard!?

But, our work was rewarded with food and drink. I went for a steakhouse meatball slider with gravy and Mike got a Greek lamb meatball slider. To drink, Mike got a beer, and I got a rosè angry orchard, since that was the cider that had on tap. We chatted with other local runners as we enjoyed our drinks. It was nice to meet other members of the running community, and I hope to participate in more of these events in the future. 

Guys, I really intended to run on Wednesday, but the day just got away from me. It was thunder storming when I woke up, and I just could not talk myself into getting on the treadmill that morning. So instead I worked on prepping for vacation, and figured that I would slip in a few miles after work. But after a full day on my feet - I had been working on machining a new fixture at work, which is its own kind of exhausting for the last week or so, that needs to be done before we leave on vacation - I was pooped. I had an appointment to get my nails done with Mom after work, and then we were going to visit a family member in the hospital after. So, as bedtime approached on Wednesday I realized that I had failed to prioritize getting in my run, which occasionally happens. But honestly, the things that I got done felt more important. 

Plus, I was locked in to running Thursday morning - Kasey was finally returning to morning running with me! She had been on summer break from school after completing her bachelors degree in the spring, and was starting Law School this week! Can you tell that I’m proud of my smarty pants cousin??

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Kasey and I agreed to leave for our runs around 6:30, and we would run towards each other and meet somewhere in the middle. Dad was originally going to bike along with us, but decided to head to the beach later in the day instead. 

I was glad that Kasey agreed to meet me, since my motivation was lacking. But I laced up and got outside, and found her a mile into my run. This was a momentus morning, as it was the first time that we were running together since she started law school! Chatting was minimal, but that was largely my fault, as I was feeling so exhausted. But I trudged along, getting in a total of five miles. It wasn’t a lot, but it was something. I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was this week, but I suppose I had been very busy in my life outside of marathon training. 

Thursday night was a whirlwind of heading out to dinner with his family to celebrate his moms birthday, and then it was full frenzied packing. I had packed most of my clothes, but really nothing beyond that. So I ran around like a crazy person after dinner, packing and running up to the shops to pick up last minute necessities. By the time I was all packed and ready to go, it was after midnight. We had an 8 am flight the next morning, and it was out a Newark, which meant it would be a bit of a hike getting there, so we had a pre-5 am wake up time. 

When I wore up on Friday I was groggy all the way down to my bones, but I was glad that we were finally heading on this trip- we had been planning it for over two years! 

The only other running that I did this week? The seawheeze half marathon! I missed my half PR by 18 seconds, but had a great time. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks for a race recap video of my experience at the expo and running the half. 

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 11

After babysitting on Sunday night, I had gotten to bed much later than usual, so when Monday morning came around I had no intention of getting up and running. The weekend had been pretty non-stop, so I wasn’t too concerned about taking a rest day to start the week. My rest days have been pretty fluid lately, not on a set day, but I usually take 1-2 a week. And this week, Monday just felt like the right time.

I texted Mike on Monday night to see if he would be up for a track day on Tuesday morning, and he was on board. Dad agreed to join as well, and Tuesday morning we all met at the track. Dad walked laps while Mike and I warmed up together, but the meat of our workouts were going to be different today. Mike was planning to get in a few maintenance miles, while I needed to get speedwork done. It was going to be a high-mileage week if everything went according to plan, and I was excited to get moving.

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Once again, I had three mile repeats to do, with a goal pace of 7:30. Since I am following the Hanson’s marathon method, this would be my last “speed” workout, as after this week track days switch to being “strength” days, and the repeats get longer but the paces get slower. Since I have done this workout a few times lately, I knew it would be hard, but I also knew I was capable. When I took off for the first repeat Mike ran along for about a lap, and then I was on my own. The first repeat clocked in at 7:36, which I was happy with. I was even happier though when it was time for some recovery, and guzzled some water down. Two more repeats, which came in at 7:30 and 7:33, and then the hard stuff was behind me. I said goodbye to Mike, and Dad biked along as I ran back to the apartment.

That night Sophie and I headed in the gym to get in some strength training, since I know that with the traveling that I have coming up soon it will fall off of my list of priorities for a few weeks. We spent about an hour lifting, focusing on arms and core strength.

I toyed around with my schedule for the rest of the week, debating if I wanted to get my tempo run in on Wednesday or Thursday, knowing that I was planning on doing a long run on Saturday rather than Sunday. Ultimately it was raining when I woke up on Wednesday, so I thought maybe I could run after work, but alas- thunderstorms. So Mike and I once again made plans to meet up at the track on Thursday morning - it’s definitely gotten me through many training miles this time around. As usual, my run to the track was my warmup, and I picked up the pace once I started laps. Mike got there a moment before me, and was nice enough to bring me a water bottle, since I had ran to the track, but he drove. 

We dropped the pace down into the high 8 range, trying to stay between 8:35-8:50. Mike ran the first three miles with me before heading home, and I had another 4 to get through solo. I stopped every mile and a half or so to take in some water, and as I got into the later miles I had to talk myself out of stopping more frequently. The last mile was by far the hardest, and I was so relieved when it was through. Then it was only a cooldown as I ran home, and the tempo run was done. Ten miles total, 7 of those at tempo pace. I had struggled so much with that 7th mile, and was disheartened when I realized I should have done 8 that day. I was disappointed when I realized I messed up the duration, but at least I had gotten some sort of tempo run in for the week. 

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Plus, I was relieved on Friday morning when I woke up and only had to do an easy run, after the previous two runs being quality work. 

I started my run heading towards my parents house, and Dad met up with me along the way on his bike we rad by the pool, weaved around the town, and slowly passed away the miles. I learned during this run that my arm had apparently chafed during my run the day before, and it definitely lead to some strange arm positions, which Dad found highly amusing. Eventually we got back to my parents house, and Dad ended his bike ride, but I opted to run back to the apartment solo to amass a total of 6 miles.

That night I started to pack for my upcoming trip to Vancouver and Alaska, since I don’t have the ability to do laundry in my apartment. Even though I had a week left before the trip would start, I wanted to make sure all of the clothes that I wanted to bring along were clean.

Another reason for keeping things light on Friday night was my plan for Saturday morning: a 16 mile long run. Since I would be out of town for two weekends I wanted to get in a good, long run before I left. Dad and Mom agreed to bike along with my run, and the three of us headed to our usual spot - the Jones Beach boardwalk. We got out around 8 A.M., and the weather was warm, but not scorching. There was even a nice breeze. My goal for this run was to keep an average pace between 9-9:20. At first the paces were coming easy, and I had to remind myself to slow down so that I wouldn’t burn out early in the run. I switched off between chatting with my parents and listening to music, and things felt good until around mile 13, when the pace started to become a bit of a struggle. I had some time banked from faster, earlier, miles, so I didn’t stress to much, and just tried to keep pushing myself. I had managed to make it to fourteen miles without any stops at all, and was hopeful that I would make it non-stop to mile 16 - but then I went to take a sip of water and somehow managed to choke on it a little bit, and had to stop and sputter after the mishap. Whoops. At least I managed to pause my Garmin.

Miles 15 an 16 went off without any other eventful mishaps, and I even managed to speed up a little bit. The one mistake - well, we were about a mile from the car at mile 16. I had some level of awareness that this would happen, but was okay with getting an extra mile in. I did drop the pace down to a cool down though, and just kept moving forward. The car was parked right near one of the food courts on the boardwalk, so when I finished up the 17th mile I headed in, really hoping they would have an Icee and a pretzel - but alas, they did not, so I settled for some Dippin-dots, and they were basically the greatest thing ever. Even with the slower last mile averaged in, I still managed a 9:16 pace for the long run, and I was really pleased with that.

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The spirit of long runs would continue on Sunday, as my schedule told me to run 10 easy, and 10 was the distance that Mike needed to get done for his long run! Since he was heading to a board game expo that day, we opted to stay local, running around where we live rather than heading somewhere more scenic. Mike ran to my apartment from his house, starting two miles ahead of me, and we started our loops. We stopped for fuel at the apartment one time, and for water at my parents, before heading towards Mike’s house - the miles always fly by when we get to run together. I ran home and my watch buzzed indicating I had hit 10 miles - meaning a total of 27 for the weekend, and just over 50 for a week.

I was tired, but felt great, after a solid week of training. The next two weeks would be lower mileage, the first so that I would be ready to race the seawheeze half, and the second because I would be cruising to Alaska, but I felt really confident in all of the work I had put in so far.

Week 9: Chicago Marathon Training

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After the scorching heat that we had all weekend, I was relieved when I checked the weather app from bed on Monday morning and saw that the temps were in the 70s- way more manageable than the 100+ degree weather that had driven me to the treadmill for my long run. I dragged myself out of bed and looked at the training schedule that I have hanging on the fridge. I knew I needed to run, but I had no idea how far I needed to go - 6 miles. Not too shabby. I wanted to roll back into bed, but went through the motions of getting ready to run, knowing that once my sneakers were on I would get out the front door. 

I was greeted with a particularly rude wave of humidity- yeah, the temps were lower, but the humidity still made it feel like I was breathing through a straw. My body was slow to adapt to the motion of running, so I took it one mile at a time, always having to talk myself into the next mile. First I ran to the track, a mile and a half. If I went home from there, it would at least be three miles. I may as well run towards my parents house, so I could grab some water. Another 1.5 miles, three total. Already half way done. If I went straight home I could get 2 more miles in, so with a little zig zagging it could easily be turned into three. When I got to the vicinity of my apartment I still needed a half mile. I considered skipping it, but knew I would feel more accomplished about the run if I did the full distance. So one extra loop around the complex, my watch buzzed at the 6 mile mark, at the very humid run came to an end at last. 

Tuesday morning rolled around, and I just did not get out of bed early enough to get to the track, and have time for my full workout. So instead I opted for some mobility work, following a few routines that Nike Training Club offers. That night I was headed to the track anyway, to host another track night for MBTT, and I figured if I headed there right from work I would have time to get my workout in before hand. 

Of course, time was not on my side, and I got stuck at work late. I hardly had time to change and get out the door to get to the track on time. I explained the workout that Coach Jackie had set for the group, and guided them through it as they completed there laps- I may have even told Sophie and Mike to slow down a few times. 

It was raining by the time they all finished, so I headed home instead of running after the practice- there was a lacrosse game going on there anyway. 

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When I got home I toyed with the idea of just getting my workout done on the treadmill. I was feeling inspired after seeing everyone put in work at the track, and eventually I talked myself into it. I figured worst case I would get a few easy miles in. 

I set up my iPad for entertainment, and got started. The workout was mile repeats- three of them at a 7:30 pace. I did a mile and a half warm-up, and then hit the speed I needed on the treadmill. Slowly counting down from 120 as I went, willing the distance to tick to a mile before I ran out of numbers. I managed to hang on to the pace! A 600m recovery, and it was time for round two. Somehow being successful the first time around gave me the motivation I needed it, and I started counting down again, this time from a slightly higher number. But I made it though the whole mile without stopping, and felt good. I walked the beginning of the recovery phase, and it was hard to start running again. But I only had to do one more repeat, and then I could call the workout successful. I buckled in, got moving, and knocked out the last repeat and glided into the cooldown. Three mile repeats complete, and Den had cooked some dinner while I ran, so I got to immediately chow down when I was done. 

Wednesday was my rest day, so I got to sleep in. But after work I headed over to the pool to get in a few laps, and then headed over to Sophie’s to get in a core workout and watch some TV together. It took longer than anticipated to get through the core workout, as my stomach was NOT cooperating, but I did what I could and hoped I would be okay when I tried to run my tempo run the next morning. 

I texted Mike on Wednesday night to see if he would be willing to meet me at the track Thursday morning, so that I would have someone to keep me accountable. He agreed, and the next morning I was up and out the door bright and early, so that I would have time to run to and from the track, where I planned on getting my run in. It was about a mile and a half to the track, and I got in the beginning of my workout before Mike arrived. I had aimed to get there a little before him, that way he would join me for the middle of my harder- paced miles. I had to get 7 done, so it was going to be a long workout. 

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When Mike arrived he hopped right in with me, and was nice enough to keep pace with me as we tried to talk at each other. I say tried, because it was HARD to hold a normal conversation at those paces, at least for me. But he hung on to those paces for three miles, which was how long he needed to get in that morning. We paused for a quick selfie, and then I was back to running laps as Mike headed home. 

It was warm out, but the miles had come without too much struggle at first. As I got further into the workout though, it became more of a struggle, with mile 7 making me really want to quit. I had to stop for a water break half way through, but then I pushed through and finished the hard miles, and got to slow down and get in my cooldown as I ran home. 

I was pooped after work on Thursday, but had made plans to meet Sophie at the gym. I really wanted to bail, but had made a commitment, and needed to be doing a better job with strength training anyway. We were planning on a “leg” day, and proceeded to do approximately a million different squat variations, which rendered our legs dead for the several following days. 

Those dead legs kept me in bed, the next morning, but I had time to get in a few miles Friday night, so it wasn’t too much of an issue. When I got home from work I laced up, and Dennis even agreed to come out for a short portion of my run- something that hasn’t happened since 2016. He did one loop of the neighborhood with me, about a mile, and then I went on to do another 5 solo. I kept an easy pace and listened to some music, enjoying getting miles under foot. Mom and Dad snuck up on me in the car while I was running near their house - the magic of find your friends - and passed me some water, which was very appreciated.

While I was out running Mike texted me asking if we would like to come over for a BBQ that night, and it was the perfect treat after my run. It was nice night of grilled chicken and fun conversation with friends. I was bummed when Den and I had to head out early, since I had to head to the airport to pick up my cousin Jen, who was visiting from Atlanta that weekend. 

I picked up Sophie and the two of us headed to the airport to pick up Jen, and then went back to the apartment for a sleepover and second dinner, which consisted of fondue and wine. It was a great Friday night. 

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Jen was coming into town for her bridal shower, and I knew the date before I set up my training plan for Chicago, so I made sure to give myself an off day that Saturday. Instead of miles we had mimosas, plus pedicures. The bridal shower was lovely, and I made up for the off day on Sunday, when I had a 15 mile run planned. 

Mike also needed to get his long run in, so we coordinated and agreed to meet at massapequa preserve. We had our bike support team with us too, as my Dad and Mom both came along to ride with us. Mike only needed to do 9 miles, so the plan was to do an out an back together, and then I would head out once more to finish up my miles. Mike and I settled into a conversational pace, and moved along the path. There were a lot of people out on the path, as it was a nice day out. I may have been a little ambitious with the pace when we first got moving, as I tuckered Mike out quicker than usual. When I saw this was happening I dialed back the pace, and made sure that we were taking water breaks often enough. We were almost at the half way point when this happened, so we just had to head back to the car, and his miles would be complete.

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Heading back we opted to change up the route, heading into the wooded area of the trail, rather than the paved area that we had tun on initially. It was a bit cooler in the shade of the trees, although there was some mud as we ran through the area, and there was more than one tight spot when people had their Dogs off leash and we had to get by. A few times I ran ahead to get in some strides and then doubled back to find the group, and each time I would find Dad biking up to catch me, as Mom was not a fan of me going ahead alone. Eventually we made it back to the cars, and had logged 10 miles together. I had planned to turn around and finish up my last five miles right away, but my body had other ideas. I had a bathroom need, and with no bathroom near that area of the trail, I opted to head home and use the bathroom there before heading out for the last five miles. Not ideal, but at least I would be able to get them done without being uncomfortable.

It was much hotter running near my parent’s house than it had been on the trail, as the path had a lot more shade. My legs were unhappy with me for stopping when I first started moving again, but eventually I settled back into the flow of things and knocked the miles out, despite the warm weather. It was less perfect, but my 15 miles were complete, and Mom had even gotten lunch while I finished my run.

As always, I was thankful for the community that I have that supports me, and hope that they all feel just as supported in return. It was a week full of hard work, in the best possible way.

Week 8: Chicago marathon Training

I knew after the long day I had on Sunday, there was no way I was getting up on Monday morning- but that was ok, because I scheduled two days of rest after the Jamesport triathlon. Realistically, I thought maybe I would be able to get in some speedwork on Tuesday- how sore could a two hour race really leave me?

One other thing that happened on Monday - I got an awesome package in the mail from ProCompression that included this Ambassador shirt, and these socks!

One other thing that happened on Monday - I got an awesome package in the mail from ProCompression that included this Ambassador shirt, and these socks!

Well, the answer was it could leave me feeling like I was hit my a small car - I was so much sorer than I expected to be on Monday! My limbs were heavy, and there was no way any running was happening. I had agreed to meet up with Jennie at the gym to weight train, and had it not been for Jennie and Sophie committing to going, I probably would have bailed. We stuck to upper body exercises, and finished with some core work. I left the gym feeling energized, but by the time I got home I was even more pooped. I went to bed early, and was very happy to be under the covers. 

I slept in again on Tuesday morning, but by Tuesday night I was itching to get a few miles in, regardless of lingering soreness. So I shot texts to Mike and Sophie, asking if they wanted to meet up after work for a few miles. Sophie and I had to be ready for Mom’s birthday dinner at 7, but I wasn’t trying to get too many miles in. They both agreed to meet up, and when I got home from work I packed a change of clothes and passed them off to Den, so he could bring them when he headed to my parents for dinner. 

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I headed out the door and towards Mike’s house, and he was ready to run. We headed towards my parents house, and ran inside to alert Sophie to our arrival. She groaned at me a little bit for making her come running, but was in better spirits once we got moving. This run marked the first official run of Mike’s NYC marathon training plan, and I was happy I got to share the miles. We chatted as we looped through the neighborhood, and I logged a total of 4.5 miles, which were particularly sweaty. 

It was back to my usual training schedule on Wednesday, and I made sure to get out in the morning for my run, because Wednesday night I was hosting track for the Tri team! Due to conflicting schedules our coach, Jackie, asked if I could help out and run a weekly track night for the summer, and I am so excited that she asked me to help. So, Dad biked over on Wednesday morning and after a slower first mile I settled into the groove of things, and trotted through a big loop, completing a total of five miles with no real pace goal in mind.

After work I headed over to the track, and was excited when people actually started showing up. As much as people had committed to coming out, I was still nervous that other plans would get in the way. I lead the team through some warm up stretches, and then sent them out to run loops of the track to warm up. Jackie had given me the workout for the team, and I wrote it on a white board and explained the plan to everyone. As they ran their loops I shouted encouragement when I could, and guided them through the workout. Everyone did a great job, and I was so happy to be able to support my friends like that! It started to thunderstorm just as everybody finished up their cool-down laps, so we got out of there quickly.

The thunderstorms were supposed to continue through Thursday morning, so I planned to run after work. I had a training at work all day, that lead to more sitting than my hip-flexors prefer. By the time I hot home from work I was having sharp pains in my hip, and decided to play it safe, and save my tempo run for Friday morning, but made sure to spend some time that night stretching and sitting with a heating pad. I had planned to head to yoga with Mike and his husband, Jude, on Thursday night, but got stuck at work late. They headed to the class without me, but we all decided to head to the meatball place, a restaurant on main street, when the class got out. They picked up Dennis and I and we all headed there together, and shared a delicious meal with many laughs shared. The highlight of the meal was the charcuterie board that we all split.

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I got up nice and early Friday morning, ready to get in some faster miles. I had a solo morning on deck, and left the apartment, running towards my parents house so I could use it as a water station. After a two mile warm-up I tried to pick the pace up, but despite my best efforts I wasn’t moving as fast as I was supposed to. When I made my pit stop to grab water at my parents, I chatted with Dad for a minute, who was busy painting the dining room. When I got moving again, I had a sharp pain that in my hip that forced me into a walk break. I was having trouble telling if it was just a tight hip flexor, or a cramp. I tried a few more times to get running, but the pain was just too much. I eventually decided just to walk home, because walking felt fine, and it seemed like a better idea than getting a ride home from my parents and then sitting on my couch. I tried to run one more time as I headed home, but the pain persisted. This was the first time that I ever had to quit a run - I have had to slow paces, maybe cut a mile off, but never have I had to completely throw in the towel. I was super bummed, and a little nervous that this was going to become an on going issue. I tried to force the thoughts into the back of my head, and not stress about it too much.

Friday night my family was having a get together to celebrate some summer birthdays, and it was a nice way to take my mind off of things. We headed to my grandpa’s house for pizza, some drinks, and s’mores, which dad had brought his little camping grill along to make. My cousins and brothers ran around playing volleyball, while Den and I sat around with my parents and aunts and uncles, discussing life, travel plans, and

I spent more time stretching on Friday night, and when I woke up on Saturday morning I took my time getting moving. We had a heat warning, and temps were over 100 degrees in New York, plus the humidity was high. I was opting to run on the treadmill, and was nervous that I would have to quit again. I made sure to stretch and warm up my body before getting on the treadmill, and set it to a pace on the slower side for me. After a mile I paused the treadmill, and stretched out some more, as had been recommended to me. I cautiously kept going after, and felt ok as the miles slipped by. Eventually the count hit 6, and I had successfully completed the miles. I did make sure to wear the brace/wrap that I had previously purchased for the rest of the day, just as a precaution. I didn’t want to get too excited about one good run, since I was still having hip pain any time I was sitting.

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Sunday morning rolled around, and I slept in once more, since I was planning on getting on the treadmill again. They temps were once again high, and I didn’t want to find myself in too much pain to keep running and stuck outside in hot temps. So after a normal amount of procrastination, I locked the cats in the bedroom, put my iPad on the treadmill deck, queued up some Veronica Mars, filled my water bottles, and got moving. Twelve miles was a long time to spend on the treadmill, but it seemed like the better option. Mentally I tried to focus on four miles at a time, which was about as long as it took to get through an episode. I found myself really wanting to take walk brakes, and just feeling generally fatigued. I tried to limit my stops as much as possible, and just tried not to think about how much was left each time I finished a mile. Slowly but surely the mileage climbed, until I at last reached 12 miles. It wasn’t the best long run I had ever done, but at least I got the miles in, and something is always better than nothing.

I ended the week hoping that my hip would continue to improve, so that I could really get back on track with my training. By the end of the week my body was at least less fatigued, but that didn’t do me much good, if my hip was going to start refusing to cooperate.

Chicago marathon week 7

On Sunday afternoon I got a message from Tara, asking if I would be down for a early bike on Monday morning. I normally start my week with a run, but the offer was tempting. I warned her that I would be slow, but she said she didn’t mind, and I agreed to meet her at the park at 6:20 a.m. the next day. 

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I packed up my bike stuff, and got everything into the car, and after a frantic moment when I couldn’t find my Tri shorts, had everything together and ready to go, so when my early alarm clock went off I just had to roll out of bed, get dressed, and be on my way. 

The alarm went off Monday morning, and I was greeted with a dreary day. I hopped in the car and under gray skies headed to cedar creek park, where a few members of the Tri team were waiting for me to get going. Of course, my bike had lost air in one of its tires, so I had to fill it up before we could get on our way. 

The ride itself was uneventful overall. I thought about how much I prefer running, was thankful that Tara had gotten me out on the bike, eventually was unable to keep up with the rest of the team, got rained on a little bit, and cursed at the bike, which was refusing to switch gears properly. When I turned around at 7.5 miles my teammates continued on, going all the way to tobay, and I rode back to the parking lot solo. 

That night I brought my bike to dad to check out- apparently my derailer wasn’t lined up correctly. I’ll add “learn more about bike maintenance” to my to do list I guess. Once that was taken care of I headed home and hopped in the pool, swimming 500 yds in an effort to flush out my sore legs. 

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Monday rolled into Tuesday, and when my alarm went off my body was not having it. I was still recovering from a cold, and every part of me screamed for more rest. So, after checking the weather and making sure the temperature would be tolerable after work, I rolled over and opted to sleep in a little. 

Tuesday night I stopped and picked up my race packet for the Jamesport Triathalon, which would be my first official Tri, and then headed home to get in the miles that I had promised myself. Dennis and I were planning to head to his parents for dinner, and we decided to take alternate transportation over there- he would be biking as I ran. We took the long way out of our neighborhood, and managed to make it a 5 mile trip. Despite the cold I was still dealing with, this run felt great. We chatted a little, and I just let my legs do the work. It felt difficult at times, but I reminded myself that running marathons isn’t easy, and that I needed to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We had one hill and one overpass that were less than stellar, but I managed some sub-9 miles and was pleased with myself. 

My excitement of Tuesday night was short lived though, when I rolled out of bed on Wednesday morning to head to the track. As I was running Tuesday night I had considered backing off the pace a few times, but I felt so good that I just let my body roll with it. Well, when I got to the track it quickly became clear that I could have used a little more rest between runs. 

I had a ladder workout planned, which would start at a 400m repeat, go up to a 1600m repeat, and then come back down. A total of 7 hard steps, and then a run home. While I hit my paces for the first two repeats, the rest just weren’t happening at the paces I wanted. Dad had met me at the track, and thankfully brought along some water in a cooler, which helped on that hot morning. By the time I was on the last repeats I was going slower than I should have been, but was giving it all the gas I had. The cooldown was arguably the hardest part, because by that point I just wanted to be walking. But I trotted along, getting in a total of 7 miles. 


I knew I was in need of some recovery, so on Wednesday night I met up with Den’s sister, Liz, and we headed to yoga together. We picked out a Yin-restorative class, and I was ready for some relaxation. It was as if the teacher was aware of my chronically tight hamstrings, as she propped us up into deep releases. Did I fall asleep during the class? Well..... yeah. But you try to stay awake when you’re feeling that relaxed!

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Thursday morning called for another run, but an easy one this time. I headed out before work, and met up with Dad as I weaved through the neighborhood. My brother Tom was planning to meet us, but we got a text from him moments after his planned start time that it wasn’t happening for him that morning. I was a little bummed, but it enabled me to get my full prescribed distance in within the pace range I wanted, so we just kept looping, slowly shifting away from my parents house and back towards the apartment. My watch buzzed as I hit 8 miles right in front of the complex, with the average pace coming in around 10:40. It was a solid morning run, and I was glad that I wouldn’t feel like I needed to make up miles later. 

The final weekday run was to be a tempo run, and I decided to plan to run after work. I had races planned for both Saturday and Sunday- which meant early mornings all weekend. So, I let myself sleep in more than usual Friday, and after work only procrastinated the run for a solid two hours before getting out the door (I mean, it was hot out! I had to wait for it to cool off a little, right?). 

When I got out the door I debated which path to take. I needed to warm up for about a mile, then the goal was for 6 miles at a pace between 8:30-8:45, followed by a cool down. The thought of picking directions gave me a feeling of major decision fatigue, so I did something unusual for me- I ran towards the track, even though I wasn’t doing speed work. I figured it was a good central point between the apartment and my parents house, so if I decided I needed water I could run either way, and it just felt like an easy choice. 

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By the time I got to the track I was up to a mile and a half, and my second miles pace was tracking in the high 8-minute-mile range, so I decided to start see if I could bring the pace down a little and count the second mile towards the tempo miles. My efforts paid off, and the second mile rang in at 8:37. A good start, I told myself. I listed to music as I ran laps around the track, one mile flowing into another. I kicked a soccer ball back to the group playing in the middle of the field a few times, ran into Mike’s brother, who was also running some laps, and found a really great groove, where I just felt good. I did wish that I had brought some water, but I managed without. At 9:00 on the dot the lights shut down at the track, just as I was midway through the lap that would finish my 6th tempo mile. I panicked for half a second, as the teenage boys that had been hanging out hooted and hollered into the darkness. I called dad on the phone to have some company and reassurance as I left the area, and got on the road to run back to my apartment. I took the long way, that was I would have a two mile cooldown. 

When I reached the apartment I immediately chugged a bottle of water, and then sat outside as I sipped a second. I had run 9 miles at an average pace of 8:57, with the tempo miles coming in at 8:37, 8:27, 8:30, 8:36, 8:39 and 8:41. I was super pleased with myself, and glad that I had eventually got my butt off the couch to get the work done.

The weekend was full of races- which will have their own reports up soon! To give you a little preview, on Saturday I completed the Retro Run 4-miler with the New York road runners, and on Sunday I did something I swore I wouldn’t do: I completed my first Triathlon, at the Jamesport sprint distance Tri. 



Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6

If you’re looking for recaps 1-5, bad news: This is the first official weekly recap as i train for the 2019 Chicago Marathon.

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Of course, as luck would have it, I wound up with a cold this week, so it was likely the least interesting week of training so far. If you’ve been with the blog with any of my previous training cycles, you probably know that I have asthma, and when I wind up with a cold it can take me out for a long time if I am not super on top of it.

Last Sunday I headed to Jones Beach for my long run, with my parents along on their bikes for the miles. Lately we have been riding up and down the boardwalk early on weekend mornings, dealing with a breeze in one direction and the sun being just a little too hot in the other. We got in 12 miles at a 9:19 pace - a little slower than my goal of 9:06 for long runs, but still within the upper end of the range I wanted to hit. After the run we stopped and got bagels and I hung out with my parents at their house for a bit, until I got a call from my husband - he was running a fever. Eek! As I headed home I swung by target and stocked up on cold supplies, and delivered them to Dennis, who spent the entire day in bed. I started taking Zicam, in hopes that I could avoid the wrath of the cold. I went for a swim in the afternoon, and generally tried to avoid being in the apartment as much as possible.

Den’s fever broke on Monday, and while he was still sick, I crossed my fingers that since the fever was gone, I had avoided catching his cold. I headed out for a run before work, with Dad along on his bike, and aimed for some easy recovery miles. Dad and I chatted as we looped around the neighborhood, and six miles flew by, despite my legs feeling a little heavy at the start. That night I was still feeling okay, so I headed to hot yoga with Liz and Rachel, who were both in NY for the week. We got to the studio a little later than I prefer, and wound up on the right side of the room, AKA the hotter side, right under one of the heating panels. We were in for a doozy of a class. I was dripping with sweat within the first five minutes, my hamstrings screaming any time a pose made me stretch them out. We somehow survived the hour, although I found myself wondering how I used to do hot yoga on a regular basis. I have another 8 classes left on the package that I purchased from the studio, so I suppose I have plenty of time to re-acclimate.

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The plan for Tuesday morning was track to do some speed work - I set my alarm early, and dragged myself out of bed bright and early rolled into my running shoes. I had about a mile and a half run to the track, which was perfect for my warm up. My legs were unwilling to get with the program and get moving, but I pressed onward hoping I would hit a groove eventually. Dad was already at the track walking laps when I got there, and I pressed the lap button on my Garmin to get started with my repeats. The plan was four 1200m repeats, with 400 m of rest between each. I wanted the pace to be between 7:30 and 7:50 with the faster end of the paces being preferable. The first repeat rang in at a 7:49 pace, and wound up being the fastest of the morning. I struggled not to take full stops or walk breaks instead of jogging the 400m of rest, but my body was just not up for the fast paces. The other three repeats came in between 7:50 and 8:03, which isn’t bad, it just wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Dad biked along as I ran back to my apartment, on the cooldown after the hard work. All in all I had finished, 7 miles total, and I was wiped out when I got home. I questioned why paces that I have been able to hit lately had been so hard - and a few hours later I had a sore throat and was congested - I had the cold that I tried so hard to avoid.

I was wiped out on Tuesday night, so I opted to skip the swim that I usually go for. Wednesday I had a planned rest day, and truly took it easy, not even cross training like I usually do. By Thursday morning I was full of cold medicine, and getting out of bed was more of a struggle than usual, even though it was at a slightly later hour than normal - but it was the Fourth of July, and I was registered to run the annual Bellmore Striders 4th of July 4-miler with Rachel. Its not often that i get to run with her, as she has moved to California, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

I scooped her up on the way to the race, and when we got to the train station we had about 40 minutes to go before the race was set to start. We collected our bibs, and had numbers right next to each other, now that we share a last name. Unfortunately they had run out of small shirts, so despite the fact that we had pre-registered, we wound up with tanks that were mens mediums, a little big for me and a lot big for Rachel.

Once we had our bibs we walked back to the car and stashed our tanks, pinned on our bib numbers, and pulled on our red, white and blue ProCompression socks. I had just gotten a new pair of their Sonic Boom print, so I loaned Rach my old flag pair.

The race was delayed by about 15 minutes due to long porter potty lines, but while we were waiting Dad made it to the start area on his bike. He had gone for a ride at the beach that morning, but had made it to the race just before the start to spectate.

Rach and I lined up next to the LIRR in the start area, and once the national anthem was sang, we were off. It was hot and humid, and when we spotted a sprinkler in the first mile we ran right through it. There are a total of 9 turns on the course, and we counted them off as we went. We clocked the first mile in 8:59, and I was feeling better than I expected to. Rach and I stuck together, chatting a little as we began to sweat our butts off. As we approached mile 2 Rachel needed to back off of the pace a little, as she was starting to feel nauseous. We walked into the a water stop at the second mile, taking a moment to cool off. The second half of the race didn’t go as well as the first, as Rachel was quickly overheating. Dad spotted us when he was spectating, and headed to a 7-11 to pick up some cold water for her. We did the best we could to alternate between walking and running, and Dad caught up to us with the cold water, which seemed to help. Eventually we ticked off mile three, and had just one mile between us and the finish line. Dad biked with us as we walked for a bit to make sure Rachel was okay, but eventually headed to the finish line as she managed longer run intervals. Since she moved to California she’s not used to running in humidity any more, and it certainly took its toll on her race today. We managed to run through the finish line, and then found Rachel a shady spot to sit while I grabbed us water bottles and watermelon. She cooled down, and started to feel a little better. I dropped her off after the race, and spent the rest of the day relaxing and hydrating.

I was bummed that I wasn’t getting in as many miles as I wanted to this week - my initial plan had been to run the 4-miler at a tempo pace, with a few warm up and cool down miles tacked onto it, but my body just couldn’t handle those paces while full of cold medicine. I decided to just go for a few easy miles on Friday morning, because something is always better than nothing. I got in a easy 5k before work, emphasis on the word easy. Even those three miles were a struggle - I was so ready to be back to 100%, and training as I intended. I wound up feeling like crap for the rest of the day, and actually headed home from work early because I just couldn’t breathe, and needed to use my nebulizer.

On Friday night Dennis and I attended Mike’s wedding, and I was so excited to watch him and Jude tie the knot. I wondered how many times I would wind up blowing my nose, and if it would lead to me having to re-apply my makeup. The wedding was beautiful, with their ceremony on the shore of Lake Ronkonkoma, where they exchanged vows that they wrote each other. I would be lying if I said happy tears were not cried more than once. We danced the night away, thankful that all of our miles gave us the cardio we needed to jump up and down to the music. When Mike’s brother gave the best man speech, he even paused for a shout out to Mike for qualifying for the NYC marathon - I was a proud run bully in that moment.

We had a late night on Friday, and when I made my marathon schedule I budgeted in a rest day for that Saturday, and was happy to sleep in. Since I had taken it easy with my runs on Thursday and Friday I considered going out for some miles on Saturday, but my body really was not up for it. Any time I tried to do little activities (such as cleaning up or cooking) around the apartment, I was feeling light headed, so I opted to park myself on the couch, and hope that another day of rest would give me the recovery I needed to get in a long run on Sunday. Dennis made us a hearty dinner on Saturday night - Fartlek Chili from the “Run Fast, Eat Slow” cookbook, and it was an excellent pick me up.

I didn’t bother to set an alarm for Sunday morning, as there were thunder storms in the forecast for the early morning hours. When I eventually woke up I procrastinated getting outside, even though there were no storms in sight. I ate some breakfast, used my nebulizer, and then watched some T.V. as i assembled my running gear. Eventually I was fully assembled, and there was no more reason to stall. It was going to be a solo 8-miler, as Mom and Dad had headed to Norman J. Levy preserve (AKA garbage mountain) to go for a walk before I got out of bed. It was in the 80s, but the sky was blue with a little bit of cloud cover, so it wasn’t too brutal outside. My only goal was to get some miles under foot, regardless of how fast or slow they wound up being. I popped on my headphones, set my garmin to show the time, and put on a podcast to keep me company.

The run felt better than I expected, and I made sure to keep the pace low- effort. Slowly but surely the miles ticked by, and as the miles stacked up it was more work to keep moving forward. But when the run came to a close, I was glad that I made the decision to get out there, despite not feeling 100%.

Here’s to hoping that things turn around next week, and my training gets back on track!

Chicago marathon Training: The First Month

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you probably know that with previous marathon training cycles I’ve posted weekly training updates, where I talk about what I’ve been up to and how I’m feeling. It keeps me accountable, and lets me compare how I was feeling in previous cycles with how I’m feeling today. 

Well, if you’ve been wondering “aren’t you marathon training, where are the updates?” I’m here to let you know, they’re coming!

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I opted for a longer than usual training cycle with Chicago, so that I could have a bit of wiggle room built in for travel that I knew was going to happen between June and October, and the first month of training was going to include travel for 3/4 weeks, so I opted to not make a hectic month even busier with trying to squeeze in weekly training updates (but don’t worry, I still clipped together some race recaps for you guys!). 

But going forward, somewhere between weekly and bi weekly training updates will be coming back to the blog, starting with a quick recap of what I’ve been doing for the last month. 

This time around I decided to try a new (to me) program for training: The Hanson’s marathon method. I ordered the book, read the reasoning behind the program, and took a deep breath at the thought of such a large undertaking - it’s a lot of miles, and a much shorter ultimate long run distance than I am used to, but I am a believer that growth can only occur outside of your comfort zone, so I am going to go for it.

While I try to tell myself that my “A” goal for any marathon is just to finish and to have a good time, I also get a lot of joy out of pushing my limits - and that is why this time around my goal is to aim for 4 hours. So using the Hanson method, that means longer tempo and track workouts, and higher mileage weekdays. Then weekend long runs cap at 16 miles - this part scares me, and I can’t promise that I’m not going to do at least one 18 or 20 miler at some point.

So far, I’ve been feeling strong with this training plan. There have been a few times that I am definitely feeling the cumulative fatigue of so many miles, but I just make sure that I am listening to my body, and really slowing down on easy days.

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Since I was travelling most weekends in June, two of my long runs happened out of state. First, when I headed to Disney for memorial day. It was a short trip, just Saturday to Tuesday, but Dennis’ whole family was going to be there, including his sisters who currently reside in California and Grenada (for most of the year - she is in vet school, so when school is in session she is far away). Our decision to tag along on this trip was somewhat last minute, but we were both happy that we were able to make it work. It was already HOT in Florida, even though it was only May. We were hydrating a ton throughout the day in the parks and were exhausted anyway, largely from the heat, by the time we were back at the hotel . One morning I woke up before the rest of the family, and went out to get my first “long” run of the training cycle in, since I had the time. We were staying at Saratoga Springs, the same place we stayed when we did the Dopey challenge in 2017, and running loops around the resort brought back memories of Greg and I running our make-up half marathon when the race was cancelled due to thunder storms. It was hot, but I found a water fountain on one of the paths, and would stop for a drink every other loop. Of course, my garmin died mid-run, but anticipating this happening I had started Strava on my phone when I began running. To my own surprise, I pulled off 8 miles at a 9:07 pace, which is my “goal” pace for long runs, and according to my schedule every other weekend I am supposed to be hitting this pace. It was humid and hotter than I was used to, so I was really pleased with myself.

The following weekend I was in Gettysburg, where my Aunt and Uncle live, to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The start of the weekend was dedicated to the party, but on Sunday morning Dad and I headed out to the battlefields and did an 8 mile run/bike ride through all of the memorials. It was super hilly, but the sights were well worth it. I loved running through all of the history, and was surprised by how many other runners and bikers were out there getting their miles in. This one was slower, coming in around 9:50 or so, but I was happy with it, and it was a great run.

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As for hometown runs, I have spent three weekends at Jones beach with my parents, running up and down the boardwalk and bike path as they bike along to varying degrees of success. The weekend that I raced the queens 10k, I somehow pulled off 10 miles at a sub-9 pace the day after, and while I was exhausted as a result, I felt so good about it. The other two weekends weren’t quite as successful - one weekend I decided to do a tempo run that was 9 miles total, with 6 of those miles being around an 8:40 pace, on a Friday night and when I went to do my long run Saturday morning, I managed to stay at goal pace for the first half of the run, but then had to back off in the second half, as I crashed and burned hard. That particular morning may have even included a mid run temper tantrum, where I had to fully stop and sit down on the side of the path for a few minutes. It was just hard and mentally, I wasn’t coping well. Most recently I had a 12 mile long run, where I managed to stay on pace when the wind was to my back, but lost it once I had to run into the wind. The final pace came in around a 9:20, and I was happy enough with that.

My weekday runs were pretty standard for the first month, if it was a Tuesday or Thursday and Kasey had school she joined me for a few miles. Dad biked along for most of my morning runs, and my younger brother Tommy even gave running another chance, and joined me for about two weeks for the last miles in the morning. Most Wednesday nights I headed to track night with the Merrick Bicycles Tri Team, and most Tuesday mornings I did a track workout of my own, either on the treadmill or at the track. I also squeezed in tempo runs on Thursdays or Fridays, and boy, are those harder than I anticipated! This is the first time I am doing a training plan with tempo runs, and they are more challenging than I expected.

Despite the cold that I am currently dealing with, I feel strong in this training cycle so far, and I am very much looking forward to the miles that lie ahead.

Up Next: The Chicago Marathon

Marathon number 6 is fast approaching: the 2019 Chicago marathon

Even though I am a native New Yorker who frequently participates in NYRR events, my plans to complete their 9+1 program in 2018, to earn a guaranteed spot in the 2019 race were thwarted when my cousin Jen announced her wedding date – November 2, 2019. AKA the day before the marathon. Which would totally be ok, if the wedding was local… but Jen lives in Atlanta and, dare I say it, I love her more than marathons, and there was no way I could be fully present at her wedding the night before the race and then somehow catch a flight back to NYC and get my butt to the athletes village on Staten Island before 7:30 a.m. So, I bowed out of the NYC marathon for 2019, since there will always be another race, and started my search for an alternate fall marathon.

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The real bummer of this? I had already made a pact with Mike to run NYC 2019 with him as his first marathon, but thankfully he has forgiven my transgression, and we will make up for the missed shared finish line when we complete the 2020 Dopey challenge together – but I suppose that will be a story for another day.

So, I started clicking about the internet, looking for a new fall goal. Maybe I would aim to complete a half iron man in the fall? I played with this idea, but ultimately felt like I still have so much left to give to the marathon, and found two race options. The local Suffolk county full marathon at the end of October, or the Chicago full, which is in mid October. I entered the lottery for Chicago, crossing my fingers that I would get my chance to visit the windy city, and was pleasantly surprised when my name got pulled the day of the lotto: I would be taking on my second world marathon major!

I then began to consider the logistics: Who would go with me? Where would I stay? When would I head there?

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Well the who was easy – Dennis agreed to head to Chicago with me, as neither of us have been there before. I managed to earn a companion pass with southwest, so it made our flights a bit simpler as well. Thank God for points! The hotel I flip-flopped about a lot, looking at different websites, and eventually booking one through the Chicago marathon housing. I toyed with heading to Chicago a few days early so we would get a chance to take in all of the sights, but ultimately our work schedules lead to us deciding to pick a flight the morning before the race. So with travel plans all set, my next consideration was the really important one: the training plan.

In the past with marathons, I have followed different schedules – sometimes using the runners world plans, or the hal higdon ones available online. After a lot of reading, I ultimately decided to try something new this time around: Hanson’s marathon method. A big part of the Hanson method is the idea of cumulative fatigue, so there are higher mileage weekday runs, but the long weekend runs max out at 16 miles. If we are being honest, I see myself going beyond 16 miles for my own sanity, as that just doesn’t feel long enough mentally, but maybe by the time I work up to them in this training cycle I will have more trust in the method, which has brought success to so many runners.

So for now, my plan is simple. For the next month or so I am aiming to maintaining 25-35 miles of running a week, with regular biking and swimming mixed in. Once training officially begins in May, it is going to mean a lot of early mornings for me, but I like to think that I will be up to the challenge – after all, growth only happens outside of your comfort zone.